Tacis project "Karelia Parks Development" was working with national parks in Karelia in 1999-2001. The main objectives were to promote establishment of four new national parks and develop further the Paanajarvi National Park, which was founded in 1992. The new, proposed national parks are the
Kalevala NP (96 000 ha),
Tuulos NP (62 000 ha),
Koitajoki-Tolvajarvi NP (77 000 ha) and
Ladoga Skerries NP (84 000 ha). All of these are in the western part of the Karelian Republic, close to the Finnish border and they are already earlier included in a national park development programme by the Russian Federation.
The project was run by the Metsahallitus Consulting together with Finnish Environment Institute, Indufor and Kampsax International. The project office was situated in Petrozavodsk. Main part of the work was done by Russian experts, altogether 27 Russians and a smaller number of foreign experts were involved in the work. The project produced eight reports in Russian and English (which are linked as pdf-files to this web site), coloured leaflets, posters and postcards of each territory. In addition, a cd-rom in three languages was prepared of the Paanajarvi NP. A Geographical Information System was created for each five parks.
There is some eco-tourism in all these territories already now. In the long run, they are very attractive especially for tourists from Finland and the big cities of Saint Petersburg and Moscow. One of reasons for the mainly positive attitude towards the parks among local administrations is tourism. The remote villages in Karelia need livelihoods and activities as an alternative for fairly heavy forestry. The project produced a report "Tourism Strategy for the Karelian Green Belt", where current tourism is analysed and new proposals made. The consequences of new parks were studied in a "Socio-economic Assessment about Establishment of New National Parks in Karelia".
Proposal for the establishment of each new national park was prepared by the project. It includes a Feasibility Study, a Plan for the establishment and an Action Plan for the First Five Years. This model is following the Russian system and it can offer all the material, which is needed for the Karelian Republic to forward the proposal to Federal Government. At the moment, the Kalevala National Park seems to be closest to establishment, due to the decision of the Federal Government in March this year, where it listed the new national parks with highest priority.
Protection of the Kalevala territory is most urgent, because it is the only one of the proposed parks, where there is a great amount of timber within the borders.The local administrations of Kostomuksha and Louhi districts have approved the proposal made by the project. It was also presented in several public meetings in villages, and there it got a clear support of local people. Now it is up to the Karelian Government to forward the proposal to the Federal Government.
The archipelago in the northern part of Lake Ladoga has the highest biodiversity in the whole republic. Protection of the islands and broad strip of the continent is widely supported by the three local administrations of Sortavala, Pitkaranta and Lahdepohja as well as the republican and federal structures.
All the new park territories have had a temporary protection, which will end by the end of this year. As for Kalevala, it might be clear, that cuttings or other activities are no threatening its nature before the park establishment. The whole proposed park in Ladoga is covered by the so called first category forests, which are protected as they are situated within one kilometre from the shoreline.
The local administrations there seem to actively protect the park territory against construction of summer huts of people from Saint Petersburg. At the moment that is a serious threat elsewhere for shores and islands of Ladoga.
Establishment of all the four new national parks still needs domestic and international support. Especially, the future of Koitajoki-Tolvajarvi and Tuulos territories is open. The nature conservation status on these territories should be strengthened, so that later on a national park or nature park could be set up there. On the local level, Municipal Units of each proposed park were established together with the local administrations. All of them have now at least some personnel and the Tacis project purchased for them cars, boats, snowmobiles and other equipment needed for the park management. During the project, altigether 37 training courses, seminars and conferences were organised for the people working with nature conservation and parks in Karelia.
The Paanajarvi National Park has been favourably developed during the last few years. Nature tourism is growing slowly as the park is constructing visitor services. A new Visitor Centre is under construction in the settlement of Pyaozersky, about 50 km from the National Park. Most probably it will be opened for visitors in 2002, when the park will reach the age of ten years.
Links to the project reports as pdf-files:
Development Strategy of the Paanajarvi National Park (1.1 Mb)
Plan for the Establishment of the Kalevala National Park (1.3 Mb)
Plan for the Establishment of the Tuulos National Park (0.9 Mb)
Plan for the Establishment of the Koitajoki-Tolvajarvi National Park (0.9 Mb)
Plan for the Establishment of the Ladoga Skerries National Park (1.1 Mb)